Poetry Rating and Contest Judging

One thing that has become clear to us over the years is, more than anything, most poets yearn to have an audience for their work. They want their writing “out there” for the world to read. At Poetry Nation, we are happy to oblige! In order to receive an audience, however, poets must also contribute something in return.

Every poem a poet uploads to their profile can be rated and can receive comments, and every member has the ability to rate and comment on the poems of their peers. The more poems a member rates and comments on, the quicker they move up the weekly rankings, increasing the amount of attention their poem receives. This gives poets a voice, provides feedback, rewards involvement, and increases the chances of a poet winning a contest. Members who rate the most poems will work their way onto the home page. In fairness, the status (level of involvement) of every poet is reset each week. Every member is permitted to vote for themselves one time per poem.

Here is a set of guidelines to help acquaint you with the Poetry Nation rating system. These guidelines are also indicative of what the contest judges look for in contest entries.

Five Stars (five star icons)

  • Poem is wonderfully and concisely populated with vivid, interesting, relevant details and memorable, concrete images.
  • Surprising, convincing language captures the reader’s attention in the first line and keeps them intimately engaged to the end.
  • The last line of the poem is cleverly written, packs an unexpected punch, and is overwhelmingly effective.
  • Unconventional language and unordinary syntax create special effects and intrigue.
  • The poem is tightly written; every word, comma, and other punctuation is vital to the poem.
  • Poem is perfectly and cleverly populated with poetic devices1.
  • Poem powerfully and effectively reflects the poet’s intended style2.
  • If applicable, poem strongly displays the visual pattern and rhyme scheme of the chosen form3.

Four stars (four star icons)

  • Poem is nicely populated with strong, authentic, distinctive language; colorful creativity; and vivid details and imagery.
  • Poem maintains proper sentence structure, is grammatically sound, and reflects effective word choice.
  • Punctuation is used expertly to emphasize the desired tone, to intensify certain words or phrases, to give signals, and to indicate pauses.
  • Poem contains strong, effective use of poetic devices1.
  • Poem strongly reflects the poet’s intended style2.
  • If applicable, poem strongly displays the visual pattern and rhyme scheme of the chosen form3.

Three stars (three star icons)

  • Poem is moderately populated with fresh, authentic language. Descriptive details help make the poem relevant and convincing.
  • Subject matter is interesting.
  • Sentence structure is adequately formulated and punctuated.
  • If applicable, poem is free of forced rhyme and unnatural syntax.
  • Moderate effort was made to incorporate poetic devices1.
  • Poem shows a valiant attempt to adhere to a certain style2.
  • If applicable, poem visibly adheres to a certain form such as stanzaic3.

Two stars (two star icons)

  • Poem is written mostly in everyday language.
  • Poem contains some cliché or trite language.
  • The meaning and/or feeling of the poem is understood but lacks creativity.
  • Sentence structure is inadequate and/or inconsistent.
  • Punctuation is inadequate and/or inconsistent, and grammar could use improvement.
  • If applicable, poem contains some forced rhyme but shows the poet’s effort in choosing rhyming words that fit naturally and appropriately.
  • Poem shows some use of poetic devices1.

One star (One star icon)

  • Poem is written entirely in everyday language.
  • The meaning and/or feeling is unclear and/or non-existent.
  • Throughout, poem contains clichés or trite language.
  • Lines are not written in proper sentence structure.
  • Poem is poorly punctuated, and grammar is weak throughout.
  • If applicable, end rhymes are forced throughout for the sake of completing a rhyme, making little sense and convoluting the structure of the poem.
  • Poem entirely lacks poetic devices1.


1 – Poetic Devices

imagery, figurative language, alliteration, assonance, consonance, metaphor, simile, symbolism, diction, rhyme, rhythm, meter, personification, onomatopoeia, repetition, tone

2 – Poetic Styles

rhythm and meter, rhyming poetry, free verse, blank verse, allegory, ballad, confessional, narrative, ode, satiric, burlesque, short verse, elegy, war poetry, inspirational poetry, macabre poetry, comic poetry, religious poetry, holiday poetry, etc.

3 – Poetic Forms

stanzaic, acrostic, cinquain, sonnet, haiku, limerick, villanelle, pantoum, sestina, terza rima, etc.